Recovering

I’ve been out of the hospital for just over a week now, and I’m slowly getting better.

Somewhat ironically, the best way to describe how I feel now would be to compare it to morning (mourning, now, more like it) sickness.

I can’t eat much. When I do eat, nothing sounds very appealing. After I eat, I occasionally regret it.

It’s not pain, so much as never-ending queasiness.

But I lied, because there’s also pain. One of my doctors explained it best, I think, when she compared pancreatitis to having your body fill up with leaking battery acid. My back aches most of the day, so I stay glued to a bottle of Advil and a heating pad, and there a small area along my abdomen that feels numb, tingly, and sort of dead.

And I haven’t figured out why, or how, but every night, between 4-6 a.m., I wake up totally nauseous and unable to fall back asleep.

It’s a real pretty picture, isn’t it?

I miss just feeling normal. Not even good — just normal. Just going to bed and waking up in the morning. Or grabbing any food and eating it without being terrified of how my body will react.

So, I’m nowhere near 100% yet, but I’m so much better than I was a week, and two weeks ago, it’s insane.

Emotionally, I’m a dumpster fire.

The initial relief of finding out I’m not allowed to do any more rounds of IVF has been replaced by heart wrenching grief that we’ll never have another child. And then I feel guilty, because I have Gus, and he’s perfect, and I shouldn’t be greedy. And then Gus wraps himself around me and tells me how much he loves me, and oh boy, here come the waterworks again.

And then people tell me they’d carry a baby for me, and I think ok yes! but also, how in the world can you ask someone to do such a huge favor? And I pepper my friends with adopted brothers and sisters with overly personal questions. And then I wonder if I can try again, without estrogen? Is that even a thing? And then I get exhausted, and cry some more, and can’t think about it anymore.

See? Dumpster fire.

Silver lining? Between my two hospitalizations in November, and the limited recovery diet/forced starvation treatment for pancreatitis, I’ve lost almost 25 pounds, and counting.

So it’s not all bad.

A Sudden and Unexpected End of an Era

I just came home from another 10 days in the hospital. Collectively, I spent nearly half of November in a hospital bed.

I missed Thanksgiving.
I missed Gus’ first trip to the dentist.
I missed my cousin-in-law’s entire trip out for Thanksgiving weekend.

I got out of the hospital (my 1st trip) after three days, feeling like my old self, just taking the occasional tylenol and ready to get on with our planned embryo transfer, which was pushed back a few days to give me time to heal.

And I did heal, and we had our transfer, and I was feeling really optimistic and got a few positive pregnancy tests starting six days after transfer. A little darker on day 7. I never got to test on day 8 — the hospital took over at that point.

A week after my embryo transfer, and 16 days after my first hospital stay, my body exploded from the inside, and I genuinely believed I was dying.

Dying in the car on the way to the emergency room. Almost fainting from pain, until someone caught me in a wheelchair (so cliché!).

Dying in the emergency room, when there were no beds and I willingly, joyfully laid down on the waiting room floor, and enthusiastically emptied my stomach into charming little plastic bins.

Dying in a small room, begging for drugs, or for someone to just Looney Toons-style knock my ass out with a frying pan to the head. Anything.

“It’s pancreatitis!” I shouted at everyone. “I need an IV! And morphine! And another CT scan! And I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant!”

They all agreed, and they tried to help me. They did help me, but nothing was helping.

I just kept comparing it to last time. Last time, I felt better by now. Last time morphine worked quickly and consistently.

This time the pain was 1,000 times worse, and nothing was managing it for the first four days. The first moment of relief I felt was several days later — After feeling like something exploded in my chest, when I couldn’t breathe, screaming at Mike that I love him, make sure Gus knows how much I love him if something happens to me, while a rapid response team doubled my meds and rushed me sobbing to a CT scan.

So, what happened?

Apparently labs came back after the first hospitalization, that showed I had elevated triglycerides. This means nothing to me, but a doctor assures me they shouldn’t be higher than 200, and mine were more than 800. That was what they were when I left the hospital the first time, but since I’d been discharged already, no one gave us the results. (I have strong opinions about this as a policy)

Do you know what can make triglycerides really high?

Estrogen.

Guess what I was taking a crapload of, for even longer than originally planned?

Want to guess what my triglycerides were when they tested them the day I went back to the ER?

More than 5,000.

Also, I was pregnant.

But you can’t take estrogen and lower triglycerides at the same time, so all my meds stopped immediately. I was also insanely dehydrated, and wasn’t allowed to eat or drink for 90 hours, so none of us were surprised when on top of everything else I started bleeding.

What happens now?

Literally right this second all I can do is sip clear fluids, and eat a few teaspoons of food a day and hope it stays in my body and that they didn’t send me home too early.

I feel horrendous, and am trying to remind myself that recovery is going to be more severe, because this time my illness was much more so as well.

I’ve been advised by multiple doctors that I should never, ever, undergo another round of fertility treatment again. That if I take any estrogen therapies in the future, it could kill me.

And so just like that, I’ll never get pregnant again. I’ll never give birth to my own child again. And, maybe it’s because I don’t have a say in the matter, but it’s a bit of a relief to step away from all the needles, and the anxiety and the worry and the fear that comes along with trying again.

I have seven healthy embryos left. Maybe someone will show up at my door and offer to grow one of them for me (I’ll name them after you!). Maybe I’ll win the lottery, and I can pay for a gestational carrier. Maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll do all those things.

Mike and his parents, and his cousin, and my parents have been so amazing, taking care of Gus and of me. I’ve gotten so many texts and calls and emails, and I literally can’t talk about it without getting winded — I’m not ignoring you, I literally can’t talk, or stop crying, but thank you, and I love you all.

I’ve been home for a day, and we’re all settling into our new temporary normal. I can’t wait to feel normal again. I miss normal.

Mike told me tonight, after the 15th time I was crying on his shoulder, to think about karma. I asked him if I was being punished, and he told me that something wonderful would happen soon.

Maybe he was talking about the painkillers? Only time will tell I guess.

What a Difference a Week Makes

A week ago I was just getting out of the hospital, terrified of eating, and still a little sore.

I was also pretty confident we’d be celebrating our first female president on Wednesday.

Shit happens – usually when you least expect it.

While I’m not at all excited about the outcome of the election (I’m sad, and scared for families that don’t look like mine) I am taking comfort in every spiteful Joe Biden meme I see, and proudly wearing my safety pin.



One little bright spot, at least for me, was the news that my sudden bout of pancreatitis did NOT mean that my frozen cycle needed to be cancelled. My RE suggested pushing everything back five days to give me time to recover.

A week later, transfer day is fast approaching, and I finally feel like my old self again.

Fingers crossed.

Back in the Saddle.

As we get ready to start another FET cycle, I’m trying to get as healthy as possible.

And along with that comes (or goes?) all the usual suspects.

Caffeine.
Sugar.
Artificial sweeteners.
Alcohol.
Refined Grains.
Good ole’ gluten.

Goodbye old friends. We had a good run, didn’t we?

And, unfortunately for me, since our last loss I have just been eating my feelings (they taste like pizza and ice cream!) for months. Then, that rolled into vacation eating.

And so all that had to stop.

And then I did something unthinkable.

I started going to the gym again. On purpose! Repeatedly! It’s not as often as I’d like, and I can’t work out as hard as I used to (who remembers when I was thin?!) but it’s better than never, ever going to the gym, which is what I’ve been doing for, ohhhhhhhh, six years?

And after all these years of infertility treatments, and pregnancies, and breastfeeding, and going dairy-free, and then eating ALL THE DAIRY, I honestly cannot tell you what my pre-pregnancy weight was.

The good news is, I’m not focused on being a certain weight, or a certain size. This body of mine will never be perfect, but it gave me Gus, and that’s a body worth celebrating as far as I’m concerned, even if it doesn’t look perfect in a bathing suit. But leggings and tunics seem like they’re here to stay awhile, so amen and hallelujah for stretchy pants!

My goal is to lose as much weight as I can (healthily) between now and our FET, while getting stronger and eating these things called “vegetables” I’ve been hearing so much about.

So far, so good.

PGS Results

We had 10 remaining embryos on ice, and after our last loss, we decided to have them all PGS tested.*

Before our embryos could be tested, they’d need to be thawed, biopsied, and re-frozen. We also needed to participate in a consultation with the lab that would be doing the testing.

We were told since we (me, really) were both 31 when our embryos were made, we could expect around 60% of them to be normal, and the rest, obviously, abnormal. I knew that all my embryos had made it to Day 5 before they were frozen, but I’d never known what they were graded.

They were ALL 5AA.

If you’re blessed in the fertility department — this is practically unheard of. If you’re currently undergoing IVF — I don’t need to tell you how amazing that is.

So, two weeks ago, all ten were thawed and biopsied. Nine out of the 10 survived the process and were re-frozen.

Yesterday we got the call from my nurse, and EIGHT of the nine are chromosomally normal!

I know that a PGS diagnosis of “normal” is no guarantee, but I’m very optimistic about moving forward with a frozen cycle this fall. I also can’t help but wonder if we really DID hit the 60% mark:

1st transfer — Chemical Pregnancy, one embryo
2nd transfer — early loss, one embryo
3rd transfer — healthy baby, two embryos
4th transfer — early loss, one embryo

So we’ve used 5 of the original 15. Assuming the ones we lost or didn’t take were abnormal, plus the test results we have now, that means 9/15 (60%) were/are normal.

We’re on schedule to try again in October. Now if only I could stop eating and drinking like I’m still on vacation. 

*Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) is a powerful genetic test that may be performed on embryos during IVF treatment to screen for numerical chromosomal abnormalities. PGS is performed on a small embryo biopsy prior to transfer and identifies which embryos are chromosomally normal.

Relief

Today was my D&C.

My husband has a wonderful, and inappropriate, bedside manner. Like, after he used my purse to modestly cover my crotch while I was climbing onto a gurney in my assless gown, he only referred to my purse as my “goody bag.” He also said a lot of other things I shouldn’t repeat, and then called himself a “selfish Patch Adams.”

I’m sad, and tired, and sore. But I’m also relieved.

I’ll explain.

One of the cruel realities of a missed miscarriage, are on-going pregnancy symptoms. I’ve spent the last four days, nauseous, tired, short-of-breath, and achy (in addition to sad!) — only this time I knew it was all for nothing.

And I’m sure there are lots of experiences in life that cause as much anxiety as pregnancy after recurrent miscarriage does. But those things are probably like, oh I don’t know, being kidnapped. Or dangling over an Indiana Jones-esque pit of snakes. Or being repeatedly bumped by something you can’t see in the ocean. And then doing any of those things for 10 months straight.

I’ve spent the last 9+ weeks agonizing over every twinge, cramp, pull, and ache, and frantically checking every square of toilet paper for any signs of trouble. And then, God forbid!, there are actual signs of trouble, and the Prophet Of Doom takes over in your brain, and obviously everything is ruined!

It’s been a few hours, and my ever-present nausea? Is already gone. The aches and pains I’ve been dealing with? Well, they gave me Vicodin, so those are all better too.

I’d gladly deal with all this craziness, and more, if it meant we could undo what’s already been done, but since that’s not the case, I’m relieved to know 1) my body* and, 2) my mind** will get back to normal soon.

And by “normal,” obviously I mean *chubby, and **full of annoying children’s songs.

An Unexpected Surprise

There’s a longer version of this story, and maybe I’ll feel like telling it later, but right now, I don’t.

Today I went to the doctor for an ultrasound, because I was almost nine weeks pregnant.

Was, being the operative word here.

After several successful betas, and TWO previous ultrasounds that showed a growing, healthy baby with a very strong heartbeat, today we saw a baby that was measuring a week behind.

No more heartbeat.

We knew that was always a possibility, and I’d be lying if I said I’ve been overwhelmed with warm, fuzzy feelings for the last nine weeks.

Instead, I had a growing, lingering, dreadful sensation that something was wrong.

Luckily, I don’t believe in self-fulfilling prophecies. I’ve been down this road before.

I am surprisingly ok. I know there’s nothing I could have done differently to change this outcome. I am a little surprised, only because we had two wonderful ultrasounds in the last few weeks, and the odds were (not, it turns out) in our favor. But then the spotting started, and the panic set in.

Initially I thought, I can’t go through this again. But then this morning, after talking to my nurse, I knew I wasn’t finished. My family is lovely, and whole, but still not complete. We will try again.

We were, and are, very sad. But we’re also so lucky to have each other. We hadn’t even made it home from the doctor’s office before we were laughing.

Mike asked if I wanted to help with the yard work, now that I can get Zika. Then I made him stop for a drink full of caffeine. #silverlinings

Say what you will about using humor as a coping mechanism, but it sure is effective.

But I think it’s much easier this time, because I have Gus, the original rainbow baby. A sweet little boy who came to see me last night while I was laying in bed and said he was going to give me a check-up.

Then he laid his head on my chest for a minute and said, “your heart sounds really good.”

And it is.